Agonizing Belief

It’s been a tough two (three?) weeks.

The last time I checked in, it was to deal with my inherent hypocrisy, the “I’m a Christian, but…” situations in my life that had me internally crumbling under the weight of my lack of integrity. I’m a Christian, but I use bad words (UPDATE: Been trying to lessen that. Mixed results but at least we’re getting somewhere.). I’m a Christian, but my temper is pretty foul. I’m a Christian, but I panic (UPDATE: Have also been working on this. Sometimes, we get somewhere).

And, oh yeah, I’m a Christian, but I understand/can tell/laugh at green jokes.

In my last post, I talked about a passion project booking an artist whose art I couldn’t agree with because of my faith. I’ll be blunt–it was because that art was overtly sexual. And while in my last post I sort of made it sound like I wouldn’t stand up for that sense of conviction that told me I couldn’t just let one compromise slide…after some pushing, and tears, I did. Stand up. It wasn’t pleasant and I’m 100% sure there were moments when the people I work with on that project debated removing me, but they didn’t. We found another artist. They understood, in the end.

And, for a while, everything was fine. Until, in another setting, another “project,” I was asked to compromise again on my convictions. This time, the consequences of saying “no” would be bigger, the people involved not quite so understanding. That battle isn’t even over yet–I’ve been crying and praying all weekend, and full disclosure I still feel weak and broken and scared now.

(If any Christian talks about not being afraid when they stood up for their faith, I will glare daggers at them. Don’t lie to me. It’s terrifying. And it’s bloody LONELY.)

Now, right in the middle of that battle…along comes another one. This time, it’s a project–and contacts–that I’ve grown and nurtured. It’s a group I’ve half-managed since last year. In some sense, it’s less to lose, because it’s not as big or as fancy as Project A, or as professional and high-stakes as Project B. But Project C–as I’m going to refer to it in a pathetic attempt at anonymity–is my baby, the space I’ve actively tried to help build to support artists.

…and today, a valued partner of that project, who had asked us to participate in something they were organizing, joyfully informed us that she’d booked an org for it that, of course, true to form, violates my convictions.

I told my mum. She told me God just wanted to keep pushing me to stand up for my faith. I’d like to put down in writing what I yelled at her, voice dry and cracked from the tears I’d been crying since Friday: “God needs to stop making me stand up for my faith!”

I cut off from social media this weekend because just checking the internet–an essential part of Project B–reminded me of all the responsibilities, and that one big compromise, that waited for me when I had to log back in after Sunday. The very moment I logged back on, it was that partner announcing she’d booked that org: a one-two sucker punch to my already weakened constitution.

To be honest, I can’t keep doing this. Losing Project A would murder me because it’s my dream, and thankfully for now the people involved understand that. Losing Project B would pull away a source of security and stability, not to mention be a cause of shame. And losing Project C? That would be the epitome of wasted effort, to have built something so high only to see it crumble.

(Sounds a lot like the Tower of Babel, to be honest.)

I get a sense that God’s dealing with those feelings more than with my fear or the exercise of my faith. He needs to be put first–that much is clear–and too often I’ve put myself first in these endeavors, resulting in me breaking down/snapping/not really enjoying the opportunities I’ve been given. All this happening at once feels like a reminder of who is really in charge of my dreams, security, and legacy, while at the same time forcing me to dig up and out that one aspect of my heart–the one that reduced sex and sexuality into pop culture’s dirty jokes, casual flirtations, and double entendres–for good, tearing it away by force even as I would hang on to it if only to fit in.

I’d like to be clear, at this point–I don’t judge anyone for not having the same convictions as me. I may have resolve, but I’ve also dissolved into any number of sins that make me no better–in many cases, worse–than anyone else. If you don’t think there’s anything wrong with–I’m going to be blunt here–promoting premarital sex, or graphic depictions of the sexual act, or hooking up, I do not mean to label you a bad person. You have your beliefs, and I have mine. You live them, and I’ll…well, I’m trying to live mine. Honestly I think you  have the right to judge me if I decided to compromise on what I say I believe in, just so I could to fit in. We may not have the same beliefs, but I’m pretty sure disdain for anyone who says one thing and does another is universal. I’d be more of a Pharisee if if I didn’t walk my talk.

I’m incredibly lonely, to be honest. I’m doing this because I believe that it’s what God wants, but even as I do it I can’t feel his support through my fear and anguish. I’m certain he must be there–the same Biblical promises that tell me I should stand firm in my faith are the ones that say he won’t leave or forsake me–but with so much that has to be done, so much I could possibly lose, so much left up to factors and individuals beyond my control…I can’t see him. Not through my tears. I wish I could be one of those Christians I said I’d give the stinkeye to several paragraphs ago, those people who talk about standing for their convictions like it’s easy.

But I can’t.

Instead I offer only my honesty on the subject: right now, it feels like Hell. I’m basically depressed. But I can understand the hope I have, even if I don’t feel it. Viewed through the lens of my faith, losing everything that, to the world, essentially makes me me, is not a suicide-worthy situation. Losing my–okay, I’m going to get super honest here–band, job, and arts org–does not strip me of a reason to live, even if losing one or two or all three would be catastrophic and devastating. Even if I’d miss dearly the friends I’d made along the way. Even if the labels of “maarte,”or “judgmental,” or “self-righteous” would hurt worse that stab wounds.

Even if the prospect of getting through this week–a week that, mind you, ends in our EP launch–feels worse than having to walk on Legos, coal, and broken glass, I’m trying to cling to that hope, with all I am able. Because here’s the thing: if I push my bandmates, bosses, workmates, and org partners enough, they would all leave me, and vise versa. It is human nature to abandon. But God isn’t human. I can push as much as I am able, run away screaming, and the moment I change my mind I’d turn around and he’d still be there. Only God is not repulsed by the hypocrite and liar that I am. At the end of the day, at my darkest, only He would still be willing to fight for me.

So while I do it grudgingly, in agony, and screaming at Him why He has to allow my world to implode all at once…I will keep up the fight. In the words of Hillsong:

Even when the fight seems lost
I’ll praise You
Even when it hurts like hell
I’ll praise You
Even when it makes no sense to sing
Louder then I’ll sing Your praise

~aRT~

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